By concentrating on the bad news of growing infection and death rates, our government is failing to explore and exploit some better news: there must be a large and rapidly growing number of Recovered Patients who represent a major untapped resource in fighting Covid.

The internet suggests that, in the UK, since the first Covid wave started in February/March 2020, probably well over one million people have contracted the virus from each other. A minority of this total will have been infected only recently in the second wave and are still ill.  But the survival rate remains about 98%, so most will recover.

Except in the lucky symptom-free cases, Covid typically attacks strongly about 10 days after infection and, a fortnight after that, a bit over 1% of patients may be dead but say 98% are on the road to recovery and symptom free. At some point, recovering Covid patients cease to be infectious to others and, so far as we can tell from international reports, they are highly unlikely to be re-infected themselves, at least for a good while.

A back of the envelope calculation would suggest that there may already be over 500k such fully “Recovered Patients” who are consequently no threat to themselves or to others and so should not logically be subject to lockdown or prevented from going about their daily lives outside of their homes. So far, they have not complained much but surely that’s a matter of time.

More importantly, once identified, Recovered Patients could be of great service to the community by taking on work for the vulnerable that would otherwise be considered as dangerous. One of the objections to the “Great Barrington Declaration” (which proposes fully sheltering the vulnerable but not locking down the rest) is that the vulnerable need continual interaction and contact from helpers, family, and others who would thus infect them. But if the helpers were Recovered Patients, the risks to the vulnerable would presumably be reduced.

It is surprisingly difficult to get an official assessment as to how many such Recovered Patients there are in the UK. On enquiry yesterday, the Office for National Statistics was unable to offer any view and directed my enquiry to the Department of Health and Social Care; but they had no idea either, nor (astonishingly) do they know how long it is after symptoms cease that a patient ceases to be infectious to others. They suggested I contact Chris Whitty’s team, and I await a response.

It is natural that the government and media should be fixated on the bad news of infection but the scientific and health community should surely be thinking much more about recovery issues.

Social media could easily be used to identify these Recovered Patients and then, where possible, to harness them to the common good, perhaps in exchange for release from lockdown and all other restrictions.